Those who know me have heard my smartwatch story before. How I went from Casio calculator watches to Microsoft SPOT watches that got data updates over the FM airwaves, made my way through various Bluetooth connected timepieces, until I ultimately landed on the Pebble that’s on my wrist right now.
Even still, smart watches are still in their infancy — no, perhaps they’ve made it beyond that. Let’s say they’re in their awkward adolescent phase. We’re still trying to find out exactly what a smart watch is supposed to “do”.
Most of us agree that they need to be a watch first. If they can’t tell you what time it is, it might be some kind of bracelet, but it’s not a “watch”.
What is a smart watch?
It’s generally accepted that a smart watch must be able to present information to you, beyond the date and time. My Pebble, for instance, tells me the day of the week, day of the month, time, current temperature, and current weather conditions. I work on a campus that is comprised of dozens of buildings that spans a fairly large area. What’s more, my building has virtually no exterior windows. In Utah we have a saying: if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. That’s how quickly the weather changes around here. In my case, having the up-to-date weather information on my wrist can save me from an unexpected downpour.
It gets this information by talking with my smartphone and periodically getting updates. Additionally, notifications from my phone are pushed to my wrist. If an incoming call is important, I can step out of a meeting or a crowded theater to take the call. If not, I can easily send it to voice mail. All of that is pretty one-directional, from my phone to my watch. When trying to go the other way, other than very basic tasks, it’s much more challenging.
Dismissing a call, changing the audio track that you’re listening to, or confirming a Foursquare check-in at the local cafe are all very simple. What if you want to call your Crazy Uncle Bendito? For that you’ll have to pull out your phone, turn it on, and either pull up the dialer, or use Google Now (or the Google Now Launcher) to make the call — unless your phone is always listening.
What if we could combine the two? A smart watch with Google Now built-in? Notifications could tell us when we need to leave for a meeting, if we need to re-route to avoid traffic, and even if we need to wish the person standing next to us a “Happy Birthday!” What’s more, by incorporating the “always listening” feature, calling a friend, sending a text message, or even finding out what movies are playing at the local theater are all just an “OK, Google” away, with the results presented on our wrist, thanks to our smartphone’s data connection.
Is that what’s missing? Could a Google Now smart watch be exactly what we need to take smartwatches from geek to chic?